Monday, March 14, 2011

Aboriginal food comes down from the hills (Unity)

Taiwan's indigenous people account for about two percent of the island's 23.1 million people, yet the number of local restaurants serving authentic indigenous cuisine is far fewer than the one in fifty you might expect.

Many lowlanders have a vague idea of what aborigines eat and how they cook: A lot of meat, much of it got by hunting, roasted or barbecued; small fish and shrimp taken from mountain streams; and strange vegetables, quite different to those seen on the lowlands, all washed down with homemade liquor. Although these impressions are broadly correct, what indigenous people eat now on a day-to-day basis is quite different to the aboriginal diet of just a few decades ago.

Millet, yams, and taros used to be the main carbohydrates. But now, because good roads link the plains with the mountains, indigenous people eat just as much rice as their Han Chinese compatriots. At tribal festivals, however, millet-based dishes are still made and consumed...

The complete article appears in the March/April issue of Unity, the inflight magazine of UNI Air. Meatier articles of mine about indigenous food can be found here and here.

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